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Following this step-by-step guide to settlement in Ontario will ease your transition into your new life in Ontario.

Any information that you will need in the first days, weeks, and even months of your settlement in Ontario can be found on this page. If you require additional information, it can always be obtained from one of the multiple immigrant serving agencies listed below. Whether you are moving to the city of Toronto, the Nation's Capital City of Ottawa, or the surrounding areas, this guide will help you get your new Canadian life off to a great start.


Learn more about life in Ontario.

In this Landing Guide to Ontario you'll find information on:

General Information on Ontario

Official provincial immigration website:

Official website of the City of Toronto:

Official website of the City of Ottawa:


Health Care in Ontario

All basic medical needs for residents of Ontario are covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Be sure to apply for your OHIP card as soon as you arrive in order to be eligible for the benefits of this public health insurance plan, as there is a waiting period of at least three months before you obtain your card after applying.

Note: In order to qualify for OHIP, you must be present in Ontario for at least 153 days in the first six months after you arrive.

For information on how to apply for OHIP visit:

Or call ServiceOntario INFOline: 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free) or 416-314-5518 (in Toronto)


Employment in Ontario

In order to begin working in Ontario as quickly as possible, follow these steps:

  • Apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN). For information visit:

  • It is important to have your foreign credentials assessed for Canadian equivalency. It is best to do this before you apply for a job, so that you are prepared to provide the information to potential employers. Credentials can be assessed with the Canadian Centre for International Credentials. Visit their website at: World Education Services is another popular credential equivalency company in Ontario. Visit their website at:
    Note: Some regulatory bodies will only accept credential assessments from specific credential equivalency companies. Before you get your credentials assessed, verify which company will be recognized by your professional regulatory body:

  • To work in most trades in Ontario, it is required that you have a Certificate of Qualification. You may have enough work experience and sufficient credentials to immediately be granted a Certificate of Qualification. If your experience does not meet Ontario Standards, you will be required to pass a written examination to receive your Certificate of Qualification. For trade certification, begin by contacting Red Seal, a nation-wide trade certification organization at:

  • It is important to ensure that you are fluent in either English or French. Countless institutions across Ontario offer both English as a Second Language (ESL) and French as a Second Language (FSL) courses. For complete listings of courses offered near your new home, visit:

  • The Maytree Foundation is a charitable organization that helps qualified professionals begin working in their field as soon as possible by offering scholarships which aid with the costs of credential assessment, or additional training. To see if you qualify, visit:

  • The Ontario government also offers services to help newcomers begin working in their profession as quickly as possible. To see if they can be of help to you, visit:

  • Global Experience Ontario helps foreign professionals get started working in their new home in Ontario by providing assessment and translation services, referrals and re-training. Call: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094

  • Foreign medical practitioners should contact IMG-Ontario for assessment, training and licensing to practice in Ontario. Visit:

  • Employment Ontario is a government employment placement service, helping employers find the experienced individuals they need, and helping individuals obtain work experience. For information, call toll free: 1-800-387-5656 or TTY (for the hearing impaired): 1-866-533-6339

  • If you are interested in opening a small business, The Small Business Centres of Ontario are government-funded organizations that will help you get started towards your goal. Visit:


Following these steps will ensure that you are prepared to begin working in Ontario.


Note: Foreign workers must have valid authorization to work in Canada on either a temporary or permanent basis.


Finances in Ontario

Immediately after you arrive, you should open an account at a local bank or financial institution. Popular banks in Ontario include: HSBC, Scotia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), TD Canada Trust, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

For general information on banking and financial matters in Ontario and the rest of Canada, visit the Canadian Bankers Association website at:

Money is made of cents and dollars. There are 100 cents in 1 Canadian dollar. Currency is found in coins of:

  • 1 cent ($0.01) called the "penny" - Note: the penny is no longer used in commercial transactions

  • 5 cents ($0.05) called the "nickel",

  • 10 cents ($0.10) called the "dime",

  • 25 cents ($0.25) called the "quarter",

  • 1 dollar ($1.00) called the "loonie" for the Canadian loon featured on the coin, and

  • A two dollar ($2.00) coin called the "twoonie" as it is the equivalent of two loonies.


Bills, or paper currency, are found in denominations of five dollars ($5.00), ten dollars ($10.00), twenty dollars ($20.00), fifty dollars ($50.00) and one hundred dollars ($100.00).

To find out what your home currency is worth against Canadian currency, talk to a representative from a local bank, or visit this popular currency exchange website:

The most used forms of transactions are made with cash currency, cheques, debit banking cards, and credit cards.

If you have children under 18 years of age, you may be eligible to receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit. For information, visit the website for the Canadian Revenue Agency, or call toll-free 1-800-959-2221.


Schooling and Education in Ontario

In Ontario, all children 18 years of age and under must be registered for and attending school on a full-time basis. Schooling generally begins at age four or five. Most children stay in school until they finish secondary school, generally at 18 years of age.

The school system is generally divided into three levels: Elementary, Secondary and Post-Secondary (either college or university). Some districts or private schools may organize their grade levels differently, though education standards are regulated by the provincial government.

Ontario offers publicly funded Public and Catholic elementary and secondary school systems. For complete information on elementary and secondary level schools, visit:

The academic year for all levels of education begins in September and runs through June for elementary and secondary students, and to April for college and university students. Contact the local school board in your neighbourhood for information on registration, which may take place many months previous to the beginning of the school year.

Toronto District School Board
Tel: (416) 397-3000

Toronto Catholic District School Board
Tel: (416) 222-8282, ext. 5314

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Tel: (613) 596-8211

Ottawa Catholic School Board
Tel: (613) 224-2222

French Education: There are publicly funded French-language schools for children of families who speak French as a first language.

For information in eastern Ontario, visit:

For information in central-east Ontario, visit:

For information in central-south-west Ontario, visit:

For information in Northern Ontario, visit:


For general information visit:

Standard holidays include Christmas and New Year's holidays in December and January, and a spring break in either March or April. Additional holidays can occur throughout the year. Students have the right to observe religious holidays.

Drivrs Lic

Obtaining a Driver's Licence in Ontario

If you are planning on renting, leasing, or buying a car, you must have an official Ontario driver's licence.

A foreign driver's licence is valid for 60 days after your arrival. After 60 days, you must have an Ontario driver's licence if you wish to drive. Some foreign licences may be converted into full Ontario driver's licences, but most foreign drivers will be required to complete the Ontario graduated licencing system.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has a three-step graduated licensing system, which will take at least 20 months to complete. The system involves a series of written, vision and road tests. Drivers must be at least 16 years of age. For complete details, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website at: or call: 1-800-387-3445

Note: Every vehicle and driver must have insurance. Contact a local insurance provider to become properly insured before you drive.


Housing in Ontario

If you have never previously visited your new city, it may be best to rent a temporary apartment when you first arrive, until you have had a chance to explore neighbourhoods and decide where you would like to live. It may be beneficial to hire a real estate agent to guide you through the housing process and provide you with knowledgeable advice on the best area for you and your family to live. You could also work with a real estate agent before you arrive, by doing an internet search and contacting one in advance.

There are multiple different housing options in Ontario. Here are explanations of some options:

Apartment buildings are large, multi-unit buildings owned by one person or company where each inhabitant rents a unit.


Studio or bachelor apartments are generally one room with a kitchen area and bathroom and are suited only for a single individual. Larger apartments can accommodate families as they have bedrooms and additional living space.


A large multi-unit building where each unit is owned by the inhabitant is called a condominium, and each unit is called a condo. Condos can range in size from small, single-person units, to large multi-level, family sized units.


Often apartments and condos are found in houses that have been divided into separate living spaces.


Houses can be connected in a row, called townhouses or row houses, or detached, as separate, individual dwellings.


Average cost of living varies given size of family, location and income. Housing is generally more expensive in cities like Toronto and Ottawa. As a result, many families choose to live in smaller cities like Kingston or Sudbury, or Suburbs, which are towns located just outside of the city limits where housing is more affordable, are very popular. Suburbs often provide good neighbourhoods, schools, shopping, and healthcare, all within close proximity to the amenities of the city. Housing in the country can be even less expensive, but you will require a vehicle in order to travel for your basic needs including groceries, work, school, and healthcare.

It is important that you take your family, your place of work, neighbourhood and finances into account before deciding on a place to live.

Pets: If you are renting your home or you live in a condominium, it is important to ensure that pets are legally allowed on the premises before you move in with your family pet, or purchase a family pet.

Note: There are explicit rules about immigrating with a pet. Please see "What can you bring to Canada?" below.


What can you bring into Canada?

Canada has strict rules concerning what can and cannot be brought into the country. There are regulations regarding food, alcohol, nicotine products, plants, animals, cars and other products. To avoid problems, be sure to check in advance what is and what is not allowed to come to Canada, as well as what procedures must be followed to bring certain items into the country.

For animals and food, contact:
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Animal Health, Agriculture Canada
59 Camelot Drive
Neapean, Ontario K1A 0Y9

(613)225-2342 (ext:4629)

For automobiles, contact:
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5

(613) 990-2309


Weather in Ontario

Southern Ontario enjoys very warm summers where temperatures can go above 30 degrees Celsius. However, it can get very cold in almost all parts of Ontario in the winter, when temperatures can go below -20, even -30 degrees Celsius. It is very important to ensure that you are prepared for the cold weather. Invest in warm winter clothing, including sweaters, winter jackets, boots, hats, scarves and gloves or mittens. If you do not dress warmly in the winter you will risk becoming ill or getting frost bite. Frost bite is severe damage to the skin caused by exposure to cold winter winds.

Ontarians' keep candles and matches, warm blankets, flash lights, first aid kits, and a small snow shovel in their cars and homes in case of emergencies in the winter. In most parts of Ontario your car must have specially designated winter tires in order to legally, and safely, drive in the winter.


Additional Resources/Service Providers in Ontario

For those requiring help choosing a community in Ontario, visit This website provides a wealth of information to help you choose the best Ontario community for you.

Ontario is a very multicultural province, welcoming more immigrants into its cities and towns every year than any other province or territory in Canada. Ontario understands the need for many immigrants to receive help during their settlement in their native language.

There are many services provided throughout Ontario in hundreds of languages. For information, referrals, and answers to your settlement-related questions, please see For information in 11 different languages, visit:


Emergency Services in Ontario

In emergency situations dial 911. When you dial 911, you are connected with an operator who will assist you and dispatch emergency services.

In non-emergency situations, if you only require the police, you can find contact numbers for major cities below.

Toronto Police: 416-808-2222

Ottawa Police: 613-230-6211 or 613-236-1222


Directory of Immigrant-Serving Agencies in Ontario

It is important to visit an immigrant-serving agency that can answer your questions and provide you with guidance in the future.

Toronto and Greater Toronto Area

Afghan Women's Organization
2333 Dundas St. W., Suite 507
Toronto, ON M6R 3A6
Tel: (416) 588-3585 Ext. 224
Fax: (416) 588-4552

Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre
672 Dupont St., Suite 307
Toronto, ON M6G 1Z6
Tel: (416) 531-4613
Fax: (416) 531-9088

Catholic Cross Cultural Services
55 Town Centre Court., Suite 401
Toronto, ON M1P 4X4
Tel: (416) 644-0816
Fax: (416)644-0819

Centre francophone de Toronto
20 avenue Lower Spadina
Toronto, ON M5V 2Z1
Tel: (416) 203-1220
Fax: (416)203-1165

COSTI Immigrant Services
700 Caledonia Rd.
Toronto, ON M6B 3X7
Tel: (416) 789-7925
Fax: (416)789-3499

East Toronto Family Community Centre
86 Blake St.
Toronto, ON M4J 3C9
Tel: (416) 392-1750
Fax: (416) 392-1175

Jamaican Canadian Association
995 Arrow Rd.
Toronto, ON M9M 2Z5
Tel: (416) 746-5772
Fax: (416) 746-7035

Newcomer Women Services Toronto
745 Danforth Ave, Suite 401
Toronto, ON M4J 1L4
Tel: (416) 469-0196
Fax: (416) 469-3307

Parkdale Intercultural Association
1257 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M6K 1L5
Tel: (416) 536-1783
Fax: (416) 538-3931

Riverdale Immigrant Women's Centre
1326 Gerrard St. E
Toronto, ON M4L 1Z1
Tel: (416) 465-6021
Fax: (416) 465-3224

South Asian Women's Centre
1332 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M6H 1P2
Tel: (416)537-2276
Fax: (416)537-9472

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office of Toronto
18 Thorncliffe Park Dr.
Toronto, ON M4H 1N7
Tel: (416) 421-3054
Fax: (416) 421-4269

University Settlement Recreation Centre
23 Grange Rd.
Toronto, ON M5T 1C3
Tel: (416) 598-3444
Fax: (416) 598-4401

Working Women Community Centre
533A Gladstone Ave.
Toronto, ON M6H 3J1
Tel: (416) 532-2824
Fax: (416) 532-1062

Kababayan Community Service Centre
1313 Queen St. W., Suite 133
Toronto, ON M6K 1L8
Tel: (416) 532-3888
Fax: (416) 532-0037

The Arab Community Centre of Toronto
555 Burnhamthorpe Rd., Suite 209
Etobicoke, ON M9C 2Y3
Tel: (416) 231-7746 Ext. 223
Fax: (416) 231-4770

Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture
194 Jarvis St., 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5B 2B7
Tel: (416) 363-1066
Fax: (416) 363-2122

3852 Finch Ave. E, Suite 310
Scarborough, ON M1T 3T9
Tel: (416) 292-7505
Fax: (416) 292-9120

Community Action Resource Centre in Toronto
1652 Keele St.
Toronto, ON M6M 3W3
Tel: (416) 652-2273
Fax: (416) 652-8992

CultureLink Settlement Services
160 Springhurst Ave., Suite 300
Toronto, ON M6K 1C2
Tel: (416) 588-6288
Fax: (416) 588-2435

Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (North York)
1280 Finch Ave. W., Suite 301
North York, ON M3J 3K6
Tel: (416) 663-2978
Fax: (416) 663-2980

Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre
4400 Jane St., Unit 108
North York, ON M3N 2K4
Tel: (416) 663-2733
Fax: (416) 663-3816

North York Community House
700 Lawrence Ave. W., Suite 226
Toronto, ON M6A 3B4
Tel: (416) 784-0920
Fax: (416) 784-2042

Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services
3363 Bloor St. W.
Etobicoke, ON M8X 1G2
Tel: (416) 233-1655
Fax: (416) 233-5141

Skills for Change
791 St. Clair Ave. W.
Toronto, ON M6C 1B7
Tel: (416) 658-3101
Fax: (416) 658-6292

St. Christopher House
588 Queen St. W., 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M6J 1E3
Tel: (416) 504-3535
Fax: (416) 504-3047

The Cross-Cultural Community Services Association
310 Spadina Ave., Suite 301
Toronto, ON M5T 2E8
Tel: (416) 977-4026
Fax: (416) 351-0510

Woodgreen Community Services
989 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, ON
M4J 1M1
Tel: (416) 462-3110
Fax: (416) 405-8936

York Hispanic Centre
1652 Keele St., Suite 107
Toronto, ON M6M 3W3
Tel: (416) 651-9166
Fax: (416) 651-9313

KCWA Family and Social Services
27 Madison Ave.
Toronto, ON M5R 2S2
Tel: (416) 340-1234
Fax: (416) 340-8114

AWIC Community and Social Services
3030 Don Mills Rd. E, Suite 8A
11, Peanut Plaza (Lower Level)
North York, ON M2J 3C1
Tel: (416) 499-4144
Fax: (416) 499-4077

Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society
2383 Bloor St. W., 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M6S 1P6
Tel: (416) 767-4595
Fax: (416) 767-2658

Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples
2141 Jane St., 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M3M 1A2
Tel: (416) 533-8545
Fax: (416) 533-9792

Community Microskills Development Centre
1 Vulcan St.
Toronto, ON M9W 1L3
Tel: (416) 247-7181
Fax: (416) 247-1877

Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre
1900 Davenport Rd.
Toronto, ON M6N 1B7
Tel: (416) 656-8025
Fax: (416) 656-1264

Ethiopian Association in the GTA and Surrounding Regions
2064 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, ON M4C 1J6
Tel: (416) 694-1522
Fax: (416)694-8736

JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services) Toronto
4600 Bathurst St., Suite 325
Toronto, ON M2R 3V3
Tel: (416) 630-6481
Fax: (416) 630-1376

Northwood Neighbourhood Services
2625 Weston Rd., Building D,
2nd Floor, Unit 27
Toronto, ON M9N 3V8
Tel: (416) 748-0788
Fax: (416) 748-0525

Rexdale Women's Centre
23 Westmore Dr.
Suite 400
Etobicoke, ON M9V 3Y7
Tel: (416) 745-0062
Fax: (416) 745-3995

South Asian Family Support Services of Scarborough
1200 Markham Rd., Suite 214
Scarborough, ON M1H 3C3
Tel: (416) 431-4847
Fax: (416) 431-7283

St. Stephen's Community House
91 Bellevue Ave.
Toronto, ON M5T 2N8
Tel: (416) 925-2103
Fax: (416) 925-2271

Tropicana Community Services Organization
670 Progress Ave., Unit 14
Scarborough, ON M1H 3A4
Tel: (416) 439-9009
Fax: (416) 439-2414

Working Skills Centre
350 Queens Quay W.
2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5V 3A7
Tel: (416) 703-7770
Fax: (416) 703-1610

Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto
1774 Queen St. E, Suite 200
Toronto, ON M4L 1G7
Tel: (416) 699-4527
Fax: (416) 699-2207

Peel / Halton / Simcoe / York / Hamilton Regions

African Community Services of Peel
20 Nelson St., Suite LL102
Brampton, ON L6X 2M5
Tel: (905) 460-9514
Fax: (905) 460-9769

Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre
1420 Burnamthorpe Rd. E, Suite 315
Mississauga, ON L4X 2Z9
Tel: (905) 629-1873
Fax: (905) 629-0791

Brampton Multicultural Community Centre
150 Central Park Dr., Suite 107
Brampton, ON L6T 2T9
Tel: (905) 790-8482
Fax: (905) 790-8488

Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood
Social Services

3200 Erin Mills Parkway,
Mississauga, ON
L5L 1W8‎
Tel: (905) 820-7532

Barrie Y.M.C.A
22 Grove St. W.
Barrie, ON L4N 1M7
Tel: (705) 726-6421
Fax: (705) 726-0508

Halton Multicultural Council
635 Fourth Line, Unit 48
Oakville, ON L6L 5W4
Tel: (905) 842-2486
Fax: (905) 842-8807

Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council
Tel: 905-546-2424 ext 4992 
Fax: 905-546-3622 

Catholic Community Services of
York Region

21 Dunlop St.
Richmond Hill, ON L4C 2M6
Tel: (905) 770-7040
Fax: (905) 770-7064

Folk Arts Council of St. Catharines Multicultural Centre
85 Church St.
St. Catharines, ON L2R 3C7
Tel: (905) 685-6589
Fax: (905) 685-8376

Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre
26 East Main St.
Welland, ON L3B 3W3
Tel: (905) 732-5337
Fax: (905) 732-0212

India Rainbow Community Services of Peel
3038 Hurontario St., Suite 206
Mississauga, ON L5B 3B9
Tel: (905) 275-2369
Fax: (905) 275-6799

Malton Neighbourhood Services
3540 Morning Star Dr.
Mississauga, ON L4T 1Y2
Tel: (905) 677-6270
Fax: (905) 677-5504

Community Development
Council Durham

134 Commercial Ave.
Ajax, ON L1S 2H5
Tel: (905) 686-2661
Fax: (905) 686-4157

Fort Erie Multicultural Centre
55 Jarvis St.
Fort Erie, ON L2A 5M5
Tel: (905) 871-3641
Fax: (905) 871-2231

Southwestern Ontario

Brantford Y.M.C.A. Immigrant Services
1100 Clarence St. S, Suite 103-A
Brantford, ON N3S 7N8
Tel: (519) 752-4568
Fax: (519) 751-0810

London Cross Cultural Learner Centre
505 Dundas St.
London, ON N6B 1W4
Tel: (519) 432-1133
Fax: (519) 660-6168

Information Niagara Inc.
301 St. Paul St., Box 1
St. Catharines, ON L2R 3M8
Tel: (905) 682-6611
Fax: (905) 682-4314

Mennonite Central Committee, Ontario
c/o MCC Alylmer Resource Centre

16 Talbot St. E
Aylmer, ON N5H 1H4
Tel: (519) 765-3024
Fax: (519) 765-3023

Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre
102 King St. W.
Kitchener, ON N2G 1A6
Tel: (519) 745-2531
Fax: (519) 745-5857

Multicultural Council of Windsor & Essex County
245 Janette Ave.
Windsor, ON N9A 4Z2
Tel: (519) 255-1127
Fax: (519) 255-1435

South Essex Community Council
215 Talbot St. E
Leamington, ON N8H 3X5
Tel: (519) 326-8629
Fax: (519) 326-8528

Cambridge Y.M.C.A. Immigrant Services
258 Hespeler Rd.
Cambridge, ON N1R 3H3
Tel: (519) 621-1621
Fax: (519) 621-2628

Sarnia-Lambton Y.M.C.A. Learning and Career Centre
660 Oakdale Ave.
Sarnia, ON N7V 2A9
Tel: (519) 336-5950
Fax: (519) 336-1350

Eastern Ontario

Catholic Immigration Centre: Ottawa
219 Argyle Ave., Suite 500
Ottawa, ON K2P 2H4
Tel: (613) 232-9634
Fax: (613) 232-3660

New Canadians Centre: Peterborough
205 Sherbrooke St., Unit D
Peterborough, ON K9J 2N2
Tel: (705) 743-0882
Fax: (705) 743-6219

Quinte United Immigrant Services
41 Octavia St., P.O. Box 22141
Belleville, ON K8N 5V7
Tel: (613) 968-7723
Fax: (613) 968-2597

Conseil economique et social d'Ottawa-Carleton-CESCO
115-2660 Southvale Cresc.
Ottawa, ON K1B 4W5
Tel: (613) 248-1343
Fax: (613) 248-1506

Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre
381 Kent St., Suite 208
Ottawa, ON K2P 2A8
Tel: (613) 235-4875
Fax: (613) 235-5466

Jewish Family Services of Ottawa
2255 Carling Ave., Suite 301
Ottawa, ON K2B 7Z5
Tel: (613) 722-2225
Fax: (613) 722-7570

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization
959 Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON K1Y 2X5
Tel: (613) 725-0202
Fax: (613) 725-9054

Northern Ontario

Sudbury Multicultural/Folk Arts Association
196 Van Horne St.
Sudbury, ON P3E 1E5
Tel: (705) 674-0795
Fax: (705) 674-3116

Thunder Bay Multicultural Association
17 Court St. N
Thunder Bay, ON P7A 4T4
Tel: (807) 345-0551
Fax: (807) 345-0173


Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Ave. W., Suite 200
Toronto, ON M4R 1A3
Tel: (416) 322-4950
Fax: (416) 322-8084

General Disclaimer

The information on this page is a compilation of information from multiple researched sources. Although the information is updated regularly, we are not responsible for information that may have changed subsequently. This is not a federal or provincial government document and neither were involved in collating this information. 

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